Missouri State Representative Lauren Arthur represents Missouri House District 18, which includes North Kansas City and the surrounding Kansas City-North areas of Clay County. For more information on our Opinion Section and why we publish these newsletters from elected officials please click here.
The past few weeks have been busy and tense. House bills are moving quickly through committee, to the floor, and being passed over to the Senate.
While the legislative branch is working hard, a few issues have raised questions about the executive branch. The Greitens administration has established a non-profit organization called “A New Missouri, Inc.” to promote the governor’s agenda. Because of its tax status as a 501(c)4, the organization is not required to disclose its donors or expenditures. This makes it impossible for us, the people, to know who or what interest groups are making contributions and how the governor decides to spend that money.
This seems unethical. For a candidate who ran on fighting corruption and lobbyist influence in the Capitol, Governor Greitens’ governing approach is antithetical to his campaign promises. I hope the governor discloses donors and expenditures and brings greater transparency to the political process.
Below you will find updates on legislative items regarding minimum wage and anti-discrimination laws.
I appreciate the feedback from the surveys. If you haven’t had the chance to mail in your responses, you can also complete it online here.
Thank you for taking time to stay updated. If you ever have a question or feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I appreciate all the responses from the last newsletter.
St. Louis was set to increase its minimum wage from $7.70 an hour to $10 an hour on August 28, 2015. A circuit judge struck down the ordinance. On Tuesday, February 28, the Missouri Supreme Court reversed that decision and ruled to uphold the minimum wage increase. House Republicans fast-tracked legislation that would preempt St. Louis from raising its, or any city’s, minimum wage.
HB 1193 and 1194 provided that no political subdivision shall require an employer to provide an employee a minimum or living wage, or employment benefits, that exceed state law. It also includes an emergency clause, which would allow this to go into effect as soon as it is signed by the governor. Consequently, St. Louis minimum wage workers will not see an increase in their pay. House democrats offered several amendments to raise the statewide minimum wage; the majority party overwhelmingly voted against these amendments. While the debate was long and loud, the House voted 112-46 in favor of the bill. It will now go to the Senate.
I voted against this bill. I believe that if one works full-time, one should earn enough to cover basic necessities like food and shelter. For many minimum wage workers, this is not the case.
UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES
The Senate recently passed a bill that would change the law under the Missouri Human Rights Act. Currently under the MHRA, a practice is unlawful when the protected trait of an employee (race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) is a contributing factor in the decision to discriminate. This bill would change that standard to discrimination being the sole motivating factor of employee termination. In other words, this change would raise the bar for victims to prove they were disciplined, fired, or otherwise punished for discriminatory reasons.
SB 43 will soon make its way to the House. Similar legislation has been filed by republican house members, as well. I disagree with this legislation. Why would lawmakers want to make it easier — and virtually consequence-free — for employers to discriminate against employees? I intend to fight against this legislation when it comes to the floor. I ask that you speak out on the issue, as well.